People are much more in tune now with protecting their skin, but they often forget about their lips, says Dr. Michelle Copeland, a board-certified plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon based in New York City. “Lips need to be protected just like the rest of your skin, as they are susceptible to skin cancer and aging,” she explains. In fact, she says, the lines that can develop from sun damage can be some of the most difficult to correct (and in her line of work, she should know!).
The best defense, beyond avoiding direct sunlight, is to protect your lips by swiping on a protector that contains SPF, she says. Here, Dr. Copeland provides some guidelines for choosing a quality lip protector:
Look for SPF 15 or higher
And apply it often! “You have to reapply it even more than you do on your skin," she says. "We use our lips more because we’re talking and eating.” That also goes for products that claim to be waterproof.
Use it all year round
The sun is harmful no matter what the season. “I treat a lot of athletes, like bikers and runners, who get a lot of sun exposure just being outdoors,” says Dr. Copeland.
Did you know that the sun can bring out cold sores in people who are prone to them? “Cold sores are viral but can be induced by stress, and the sun is stressful on the lips,” says Dr. Copeland.
Lipstick won’t cut it
Some women assume that wearing lipstick will protect their lips, but without SPF, lipstick can actually increase the lips' absorption of sunlight, says Dr. Copeland. Luckily, you can balance beauty and health with colored lip glosses that contain SPF.
Protecting your lips with gloss or balm only takes a few seconds, says Dr. Copeland, but the benefits can last a lifetime. Here’s one more: “They will keep your lips soft and supple so they’re kissable,” she says.
Ready to start saving your smoochers? Here are 10 glosses and balms, including the ones pictured above, that perk up your smile and double as lip protectors.